Caspian Deal an Antidote to Washington’s Bullyboy Tactics

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While the Trump administration is winding up international tensions across the globe with its penchant for slapping sanctions and tariffs on other nations, the breakthrough development over the Caspian Sea points to how multilateral accord can be achieved, and peace between countries maintained. For over 20 years, the seashore nations of Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Russia have been locked in dispute over territorial rights governing the Caspian – the world’s largest inland body of water. But last Sunday, the leaders of the five countries signed a landmark legal convention which formulates a compromise on sharing the benefits – and responsibilities – of the sea’s rich resources.  Addressing the other leaders in the Kazakh port city of Aktau, Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the agreement as “epoch-making”, saying it would pave the way for greater cooperation and prosperity among the Central Asian neighbors. Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani told delegates: “Our region could be an example of stability, friendship and a good neighborhood.” At the heart of the erstwhile dispute was how to legally define the Caspian. Was it a sea or a lake? That definitional difference meant different governing laws could be applied, with implications for how the five littoral nations would share the resources of that vast waterway – an area (370,000 square km) which is bigger than that of Germany and many other European states. With huge oil and gas reserves, as well as lucrative fishing resources, the division of the Caspian has always been a fraught subject. What has been agreed now is an innovative compromise between the stakeholder nations. The surface water is to be treated as an international sea which means freedom of navigation for the five peripheral countries to any of the shores. But the seabed is defined as if it were dry land, allowing for the distribution of constituent zones on an equitable basis. The precise formula for sharing the area has reportedly yet to be established, requiring follow-up meetings between foreign ministers. But the main outcome so far is the five neighbors have come up with an amicable, workable solution. “Reaching this consensus on the status of the sea was a difficult process,” said Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. “It required a lot of effort… but now we have goodwill.” Up until the fall of the Soviet Union, the Caspian was shared by just two jurisdictions – that of the USSR and Iran. With the independence of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan that led to more competing claims. The hydrocarbon resources under the seabed are immense, estimated to be worth trillions of dollars. With proven reserves of 50 billion barrels of oil that puts the region ahead of the United States or Nigeria. In addition, there are natural gas fields reckoned to be equivalent in size to those of Saudi Arabia. Commendably, the littoral nations have come up with a mutual accord to allocate the resources, recognizing the sovereignty of each. That means for Russia, it is obliged to accede to a trans-Caspian pipeline between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan which could compete with its market share for fuel exports to Europe. On the other hand, Russia’s total naval access to the Caspian gives it crucial security defense. Russian warships used the Caspian as a launching area for its Kalibr cruise missiles during the war in Syria in support of the Assad government against Western-backed militants. As Putin also pointed out during the signing ceremony in Aktau, the Caspian is a vital security area for Central Asia, straddling Afghanistan and the Middle East. For Russia, securing its Caucasus region from encroaching terror threats is paramount. Significantly, too, the Caspian Sea deal categorically excludes any external military power from gaining a foothold. Un

What Really Happens to Nicaragua, Venezuela and Ecuador

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And the public at large start a malicious rumor circuit. Which, in turn is taken over by the MSM, so that their lies are pushing in open doors. The war drums start beating. The populace wants foreign imposed order, they want blood and ‘regime change’. The consensus for war has once more worked. And the blood may flow. Instigated by outside forces, such as the NED (National Endowment for Democracy) and USAID, which train and fund nationals clandestinely in-and outside the country where eventually they have to operate. They are commandeered by Washington and other western powers and act so as to blame the “non-obedient” governments, whose regime must be changed. They constitute part of the Fifth Column. A Fifth Column is a group of people, who undermine the government of a country in support of the enemy. They can be both covert and open. The term Fifth Column originates from the Spanish Civil War, when in October 1936 nationalist rebel General Mola initiated the coup d’état against the legitimate Republican Government. This marked the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. General Mola besieged Madrid with four “columns” of troops and claimed he had a “Fifth Column”, hiding inside the city. The term was henceforth used for infiltrated enemies within a legitimate government. Mola, the mastermind behind the coup died in a 1937 plane crash, and General Francisco Franco became Spain’s dictator for the next almost 40 years. He prevailed over the Republican resistance thanks to Hitler’s and Mussolini’s air support. Now what’s the true story behind the violence-plagued Nicaragua and Venezuela, and the treacherous new Moreno government in Ecuador? Take Nicaragua – it all started with the Board of Directors of the Nicaragua Social Security Institute (INSS) on 16 April 2018 approving an IMF-imposed social security reform, modified and then supported by President Ortega. The reform maintained social security at its current level, but would increasing employer contributions by 3.5% to pension and health funds, while only slightly increasing worker contributions by 0.75% and shifting 5% of pensioners’ cash transfer into their healthcare fund. These reforms triggered the coup attempt initiated by the business lobby and backed by the Nicaraguan oligarchy. Student protests were already ongoing in different university cities in connection with university elections. These protests were re-directed against the Ortega government with the help of US-funded NGOs and the Catholic Church, an ally of the wealthy in most of Latin America. Some of the students involved in ‘re-directing’ the protests were brought to the US for training by the Freedom House, a long-time associate of the CIA. USAID announced an additional US$ 1.5 million to build opposition to the Ortega Government. These funds along with financing from the NED will be channeled to NGOs to support anti-government protests. Summarizing, in the course of the weeks following the coup, violence increased leaving a total of more than 300 dead by early August. Even though Ortega reversed the pension measures, unrests continued, now demanding the resignation of the President and Vice-President, his wife Rosario Murillo Zambrana. Daniel Ortega, a Sandinista and former guerilla leader, was first elected President in 1985. It is clear that the US and the dark forces behind the empire were preparing Fifth Column-type groups to intervene and take advantage of any social upheaval in the country to bring about regime change. What could have and would have been contained, continued as US inspired violent protests eventually aiming at the overthrow of Ortega’s government. That would bring Central America, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua – and Panama – in line with US policies. Will Washington succeed? On Venezuela – In mid-June 2018, I was privileged to be invit

War or Peace?

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 With a few honorable exceptions, it is such a pity that the American people are misled by such buffoons. It is such a pity that the American and Russian people — who have so much in common as human beings — are nevertheless being driven towards a state of war by these buffoonish politicians. Senator Rand Paul, like his father Ron, is an honorable exception. Paul was in Russia last week offering a hand of peace and dialogue. Back home, however, the Congress is dominated by Democrat and Republican war-makers, not lawmakers, who harbor such irrational bitterness towards Russia. They are clamoring for war with their ludicrous sanctions against Moscow. Frankly, the United States does not have a government. It is a regime. What else can we call it when the interests and needs of the vast majority of the nation are not served. A president, Donald Trump, was elected in part because he pledged to normalize relations with Russia. But instead the political elites and unelected powers-that-be over-ride the popular mandate, to impose their agenda of belligerence. So much for democracy! Rather what is being served is the war-profiting of a corporatist state by a national tiny minority of ignorant and hate-filled politicians who are bought and paid for. The American regime is implementing more economic sanctions on Russia based on absurd fantasies. The fantasy that Russia carried out a poison-assassination in Britain; the fantasy that Russia interferes in the US elections; the fantasy that Russian leader Vladimir Putin is a "Hitler figure" who also controls the US president; the fantasy that Russian news media, like Sputnik and RT, are part of a fiendish Kremlin plot to subvert American society. How is it possible to conduct a civilized dialogue with such delusional, paranoid people? US senators pushing for a new round of sanctions on Russia even gloat about their insane belligerence. They whoop and call it "the sanctions bill from hell". One of those senators, John McCain, is dying from brain cancer. Wouldn't McCain be better off thinking about his Maker and trying to leave this world with a modicum of peace? No, it seems. McCain like the other American lawmakers is so filled with hatred and ignorance he seems to want to end the entire world along with his miserable life. Make no mistake, what the American Congress is proposing is nothing short of economic warfare with Russia, if this new round of sanctions go into effect. Which seems very likely given the climate of hysteria and Russophobia that the American politicians and their servile corporatist media have generated with their anti-Russia fantasies. Isn't it a crying shame that so many urgent social needs in America are being neglected? Poverty is at all-time highs. Children being killed from drugs and gun crime. Millions of Americans go to bed every night hungry. Workers live in cars in parking lots outside their workplaces. Young people can't get an education unless they become debt-slaves for the rest of their lives. The natural environment too is going to hell. California's wildfires are emblematic of a nation that is burning down from its own odious failures and injustices. Yet, in spite of these urgent unattended needs, the whole energy of the nation is being directed towards belligerence with Russia. Not just Russia, but several other countries. China, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Turkey, Syria, and on and on. What is it about the American regime that it is compelled to wage war with everyone on the planet? Instead of attending to the basic human needs of its own people. Of course, that is a naive question. How else could it be when the American regime is a corporatist oligarchy whose purpose and function is to satisfy a wealthy elite and their political flunkies. If the insane and ignorant politicians of the US regime get their way, the sanctions on Russia they are ratche

U.S. is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen

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According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, at least twenty-nine of those killed were children under the age of fifteen, and forty-eight people were wounded, including thirty children. CNN aired horrifying, heartbreaking footage of children who survived the attack being treated in an emergency room. One of the children, carrying his UNICEF issued blue backpack, is covered with blood and badly burned. Commenting on the tragedy, CNN’s senior correspondent Nima Elbagir emphasized that she had seen unaired video which was even worse than what the CNN segment showed. She then noted that conditions could worsen because Yemen’s vital port of Hodeidah, the only port currently functioning in Yemen, has been under attack for weeks of protracted Saudi coalition-led airstrikes. Ms. Elbagir described the port of Hodeidah as “the only lifeline to bring in supplies to Yemen.” “This conflict is backed by the U.S. and the U.K.,” Elbagir said, concluding her report with, “They are in full support of the Saudi-led activities in Yemen today.” U.S. companies such as Raytheon, General Dynamics, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin have sold billions of dollars’ worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries in the Saudi-Emirati-led coalition which is attacking Yemen. The U.S. military refuels Saudi and Emirati warplanes through midair exercises. And, the United States helps the Saudi coalition warmakers choose their targets. Isa Blumi, an associate professor at Stockholm University and author of the book Destroying Yemen, has said the United States is “front and center responsible” for the Saudi coalition attacks. Looking for a helpful way to describe U.S. support for the Saudi-Emirati operation in Yemen, journalist Samuel Oakford recently offered this comparison: “If an airstrike was a drive-by and killed someone, the U.S. provided the car, the wheels, the servicing and repair, the gun, the bullets, help with maintenance of those—and the gas.” The August 9 attack against children and other civilians follows a tragic and sordid list of Saudi-Emirati attacks causing carnage and extreme affliction in Yemen. On June 12, Doctors Without Borders reported an airstrike which destroyed its newly constructed facility for treatment of cholera, in the town of Abs, built in anticipation of a third epidemic outbreak of cholera in Yemen. Scores of people were killed and wounded in an August 3 attack near the entrance to the port of Hodeidah’s Al Thawra hospital. Analysts examining the munitions used in the attack believe the killing and destruction was caused when United Arab Emirates forces situated near the Hodeidah airport fired mortars into the area. Why have the Saudis and Emiratis led a coalition attacking Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab peninsula, since March of 2015? Professor Isa Blumi believes the goal is to bludgeon Yemenis into complete submission and exert control over  “a gold mine” of resources, including oil reserves, natural gas, minerals, and a strategic location. Blumi notes that the war against Yemen costs the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 200 million dollars per day, yet Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who commented that a prolonged war is in the interests of Saudi Arabia, seems to believe the cost is worth it, considering potential future gains. Business profits seem to also motivate U.S. weapon companies that continue benefiting from weapon sales to the Saudi-Emirati led coalition. The United States is deeply implicated in the appalling carnage in Yemen. It is our responsibility as citizens to do what we can to demand an end to this complicity.

The Law As Weapon

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As Russiagate is a hoax, Mueller has not been able to produce a shred of evidence of the alleged Trump/Putin plot to hack Hillary’s emails and influence the last presidential election. With his investigation unable to produce any evidence of the alleged Russiagate, Mueller concluded that he had to direct attention away from the failed hoax by bringing some sort of case against someone, knowing that the incompetent and corrupt US media and insouciant public would assume that the case had something to do with Russiagate. Mueller chose Paul Manafort as a target, hoping that faced with fighting false charges, Manafort would make a deal and make up some lies about Trump and Putin in exchange for the case against him being dropped. But Manafort stood his ground, forcing Mueller to go forward with a false case. Manafort’s career is involved with Republican political campaigns. He is charged with such crimes as paying for NY Yankee baseball tickets with offshore funds not declared to tax authorities and with attempting to get bank loans on the basis of misrepresentation of his financial condition. In the prosecutors’ case, Manafort doesn’t have to have succeeded in getting a loan based on financial misrepresentation, only to be guilty of trying. Two of the people testifying against him have been paid off with dropped charges. Mueller’s investigation is restricted to Russiagate. In other words, Mueller has no mandate to investigate or bring charges unrelated to Russiagate. In my opinion, Muller gets away with this only because the deputy Attorney General is in on the Russiagate plot against Trump. Mueller and Rosenstein know that they can count on the presstitutes to continue to deceive the public by presenting the Manafort trial as part of Russiagate. The trial judge has twice criticized the prosecutors, asking them on one occasion if they had any evidence of successful fraud. In other words, the judge can tell the difference between actual fraud and a failed attempt at fraud, a distinction the prosecutors don’t want the jury to consider. However, prosecutors can frame a judge, just as they are trying to frame the presidents of the United States and Russia. Realizing that, the judge backed off. What the Manafort trial should tell you is how utterly and totally corrupt the United States is. In my opinion there is nowhere an organization as corrupt as the US Dept of Justice (sic). That Russiagate continues on its corrupt course should tell you how powerless President Trump is. Trump cannot even influence his own Department of Justice, which is doing its best to destroy him.

Challenges, Opportunities ahead of Syrian Army’s Mother of All Battles

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Over the past few days, the residents of pro-government al-Fuah and Kafriya towns, both located in Idlib province’s northeast, were evacuated after over three years of siege. The army’s amassment in the northern areas signals that soon the Syrian military will start the battle to liberate Idlib, the last major stronghold of the armed groups fighting the central government for eight years. Idlib, located in the northwestern border with Turkey, was seized in May 2015 by an alliance of armed groups led by Jaysh al-Fatah, the Syrian affiliate of Al-Qaeda terrorist group. The battleground equations changes have opened the hands of the Syrian Arab Army to prepare for a huge offensive against the terrorists’ last safe haven. Reports suggest the army prioritizes liberation of Jisr al-Shughur city bordering Lattakia province. The reports also talk about the Syrian army’s large-scale deployment to several fronts in southwestern Aleppo province, eastern Idlib, northeastern Lattakia, and northwestern Hama province. Over the past few days, the Syrian and Russian bombers pounded terrorist positions over 100 times in Hama, Idlib, and Aleppo. The targeted neighborhoods included Sheek, Al-Ziyara, Tal Waset, Qastoun, Al-Mansourah, Al-Habit, Khan Sheykhun, and other areas. The events bear a sign that the upcoming days will witness the most decisive anti-terror battle since the defeat of ISIS. The fight, however, will not be an easy job to accomplish as the army could face obstacles ahead. Still, Damascus military potentials are so immense, making it possible to deal fatal blows to the terrorists. Terrorists amassed in Idlib One major hurdle is the massive presence of the terrorist fighters in the province. Three years ago, Jaysh al-Fatah, Al-Nasra Front, and other factions seized Idlib control on the strength of Saudi and Turkish support. Over the past few months, the Syrian army’s victories in the south and center forced a large number of the armed groups to surrender and relocate to Idlib together with their families. Idlib, thus, represents an ending point for the anti-Damascus militiamen. But their expected resistance to a heavy assault will slow down the operation. European worries about Western fighters’ return home Another roadblock can be set up by the European governments which are afraid of the return of extremists to the home counties. Since 2011, a large number of European radical Islamists traveled to Syria and Iraq, both hot spots of a regional crisis, to join terror organizations. Idlib loss to the government can force a large number of them back to Europe. Europe may resort to establishing some barriers ahead of the northern front operation. A propaganda campaign accusing the government of chemical weapons, like what happened in Khan Sheykhun and Duma last year, is highly anticipated. Turkey may start a game attacking Tahrir al-Sham Front The Syrian government, moreover, has to deal with Turkey’s objection to the operation. Ankara intends to roughen Idlib liberation for Damascus. To this end, it eyes capturing the would-be battlefield before the government forces arrive using the opposition armed wing, the Free Syrian Army. It is now busy mobilizing the opposition forces against Tahrir al-Sham, the dominant group on Idlib ground. Idlib borders Turkey, which means the armed groups will get bigger life lines. Turkey-aligned militants already exist in Afrin in Idlib’s north and can disrupt the operation. Military capabilities and cohesion The first and most important factor that gives the Syrian army an upper hand in the northern battle is its military capabilities and unity. Over the seven years of unceasing fight in a multi-fronted war against multiple militia groups honed the army’s combat skills. If we add the Russian air cover and the Iranian advisory support, no force can confront its firepower. Recent victories in Damascus outskirts, Daraa,

17 Factors Signaling US-Turkey Alliance is Ending

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Turkey refrained from releasing the pastor. In response, Washington immediately imposed sanctions on the Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul over their role in American national’s detention.    The reactions ushered in a domino-style row between the two allies.  Trump in a post on 10 August said he was doubling the tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum imports to the US. He also warned that a new batch of sanctions was to follow. The Turkish administration hit back by similar tariffs on the American products. The tensions caused a currency crisis in Turkey. Only a day after Trump’s tweet, the Turkish currency lira value fell. Each dollar was dealt for 6.91 liras, meaning an 84.2 percent loss of value by the Turkish currency. Earlier this year, each dollar was sold for 3.75 liras. The currency crisis and economic pressures made Ankara lash out at Washington, accusing it of “stabbing in the back”, and warning that their alliance is ending. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey in an article published by the New York Times on August 11 warned of the end of alliance with the US and said Turkey finds new friends and allies. The warning is not easy to ignore. Erdogan was right about his warning. The couple’s alliance is closer than ever to collapse. But is Trump the cause or it has deeper roots? Turkish-American differences surely transcend Trump era and stem from 28 years of accumulated disputes since the end of the Cold War. The following are 17 factors that exhibit the end of the alliance: 1. During the First Persian Gulf War, in 1991, Turkey withheld its territory from the US for anti-Iraqi operations. It also declined to join the US-led alliance against Iraq’s Saddam Hussain. 2. In the Balkans war, Turkey moved against NATO strategy by offering help to the Islamic groups. The support was highly noticeable during the rule of Necmettin Erbakan-led Welfare Party. 3. In 2003, Turkey turned down a US request to use its Incirlik airbase for bombing Iraq. 4. When in 2004, the then-US President George W. Bush exposed to CNN his administration’s Greater Middle East program, Erdogan, dreaming of restoring Ottoman Empire, came against the idea, saying Washington’s plan was dangerous to the region. 5. In 2005, The US-based International Center for Terrorism Studies published a report in which it gave proofs about Turkey’s support to Islamists who attacked the US forces in the region. The report triggered White House’s anti-Turkish fury. 6. Since 2011, the year the Arab uprisings erupted, Turkey, assisted by Qatar, pushed for Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Morocco, moving contrary to Washington’s regional policies. 7. Since the outset of the Syrian crisis, Ankara leaders pressed for a safe zone starting from Azaz to Jarabulus in Aleppo province. The idea, however, was brazenly rejected by the US. 8. Turkey and the US have been at loggerheads over Washington’s alliance with Syrian Kurds starting from 2014. Erdogan accuses the Americans of backing Syrian branch of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Turkey’s archenemy. 9. In late 2016, Turkey in a shift of policy turned to Russia-Iran alliance in Syria. With Russia, it brokered first Syrian ceasefire on December 31 the same year. Turkey also joined Astana peace process on Syria beside Iran and Russia, arousing the ire of the Americans. 10. A failed military coup hit Turkey in July 2016. Ankara said it has documents showing US intervention. The incident was the main cause of Erdogan’s pessimism toward Washington. 11. Turkey’s expansion of trade ties with Iran. Since 2017, the two neighbors’ trade increased by 14 percent, touching $8 billion. The issue caused severe American discontentment. 12. After the military coup, Ankara engaged in mounting milit

US Negotiation Strategy: One Model for All Seasons

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In Iran, while politicians almost unanimously rejected the offer, many were waiting for the leader to have the last word on the suggestion. This happened on Monday when Sayyed Ali Khamenei, addressing crowds of the citizens in Tehran, released his stance on the talks, saying negotiation with Washington "is forbidden". Touching on unreliability of the US, the leader explained the White House’s formula and approach adopted by all American administrations during the negotiations with foreign governments. Recounting reasons why Iran has decided not to negotiate with the US , Ayatollah Khamenei explained: - Because the Americans rely on money and power, they consider negotiations as a commercial exchange. - When the US wants to negotiate with a party, they determine their main goals, and then they won’t retreat even a step away from these goals. - They demand that the other party to pay a privilege immediately; and if the other party refuses to comply with them, they start to make a fuss, so the other party would surrender. - The US itself does not pay anything in exchange for what it takes from the other party. The US only makes strong promises in order to enchant the other party with mere promises. - In the final stage, after receiving all the immediate advantages, Americans breach their own promises.  “They (Americans) just give empty words but they want concrete privileges. At the end of the road, they break their word and do not fulfill it,” he told the Iranians coming from across the country to the capital to visit him. A look at the track record of various US administrations’ performance in negotiations can make it clear that despite some differences in tactics and occasionally in strategies, they all adopt a single version of negotiating style. Over decades, the main tool of the White House to realize its interests in special cases has been the carrot-and-stick policy, except for some case of direct military actions. Once the process is complete and Washington gets all of its demands met, its leaders break their promises under various ruses. They in some cases even press for further demands as they already devaluated the opposite side’s play cards. A very memorable example is the Libya denuclearization talks. Following the 9/11 attacks on the US and the ensuing invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, who was once in the Soviet-led camp and thus an opponent to the US-led West’s policies in Africa, told Washington he was ready to quit his nuclear program and normalize diplomatic ties with the US, severed since 1981. In return, he demanded all of the sanctions on Tripoli lifted. In March 2004, over 1,000 nuclear centrifuges and missile parts were shipped out of Libya. Despite the fact that some Libyan politicians bragged about their return to the international community by getting a temporary United Nations Security Council’s seat in return for quitting their missile and nuclear programs, Gaddafi was dissatisfied with the outcome. In April 2010, he told the media that the West did not help him with bolstering his economy and warned that Libya case is not a good model to settle Iran and North Korea nuclear cases. Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam later revealed that in 2009 his father halted enriched uranium shipment abroad to raise a bargaining chip against the West. Mohamed El-Beradei the former International Atomic Energy Agency chief, in his book, The Age of Deception: Diplomacy In Treacherous Times wrote that Gadhafi did reforms to highly sensitive policies and moved back from his stances hoping to get West’s gratification. He added that Libya increased cooperation with the IAEA and the US with a hope to develop economically. The Libyans, he went on, engaged in full cooperation and provided requested information making the nuclear experts’ supervision an easy process. El-Beradei noted that duri

How Will Bahrain’s Majority Shiites Be Reduced to Small Minority by 2050?

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 Al Khalifa’s rule began in 1783 and has continued to date. The country, with 767 square kilometers of size, fell to the hands of Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa since 1999. The ruler, feeling that Shiite citizens developing increasing knowledge of the democratic values, implemented a policy of crackdown and elimination politically, socially, and economically. The repression against the Shiites, much of them Twelver Shiites, continued until 2011, the year when the people, taking cues from a wave of anti-dictatorship uprisings in the Arab region, rose their voice against the rule of Al Khalifa. But the ruling family countered the revolution with an iron fist as it was aided by Saudi Arabia and other despotic regimes. The revolt continued in the next years, reflecting immense antipathy to the Al Khalifa rule. The ruling family responded by shoring up its clampdown campaign unprecedentedly, drawing protests on the global stage. So far, many international rights organizations have officially disparaged repression of the Shiite citizens in Bahrain. The Shiites in the new conditions are on the track of being gradually eliminated. Three regime policies set off the alarm bells to the Shiites: Shiites marginalized from various social stages  Discrimination in offering equal opportunities in a variety of social, economic, and political areas is the regime’s top policy against the Shiite citizens. The government presses with its anti-Shiite policies so brazenly that even its Western allies, on top of them the US, admit that the Shiite citizens are subjected to big discrimination. Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), a human rights watchdog focusing on Bahrain, this month published a report on the predominantly Shiite Bahraini natives, dubbed Baharna, bringing in spotlight their grave conditions. The report suggests that the Baharna account for 70 percent of the country’s population. They are, the report says, are exposed to substantial discrimination in social welfare, employment, education, and culture. According to the report, the Baharna, also called Bahranis, are deprived of the right for education in their faith, as they also face a big challenge in job opportunities access. The ADHRB’s report adds that the native Bahrainis constitute the lower economic class of the society, with the Manama regime systematically depriving them of education, welfare, and medical services. Demographic changes Al Khalifa also resorts to manipulation of the population demographically to transform the Sunni population into the majority as part of a strategy to impair the Shiite base. According to field investigations, the ruling regime has launched organized demographic change programs over the past three decades to decrease the Shiite population. The regime brings Sunnis from Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India with the guarantee of job opportunities, housing, and other social benefits to push the Shiites into a minority. Field realities show that the migrants, also called “the citizenized” locally, have reduced the proportion of the Shiite population. In 2001, for example, the Shiite population was 85 percent but in 2008 it fell to 70 percent. Since the 2011 uprising, some 15,000 Baathist Iraqis were moved to Bahrain from Jordan. In 1999, Bahrain’s population was 700,000. The number increased to 1.250 million in 2012, with 350,000 of them being the citizenized people. The experts now warn that if the current demographic change policy goes on, over 80 percent of the Bahraini population will be Sunnis in 2050. Anti-Shiite crackdown and citizenship revocation  Over the past few years, the Al Khalifa regime increasingly sent to prison the rights and civil activists and Shiite clerics under political motivations. According to a report jointly issued by ADHRB and Iraq Development Organization (IDO), the Bahraini regime continues its cl

Swedish Muslim woman wins handshaking discrimination case

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By: Samuel Osborne

Source: Independent

Swedish Muslim woman whose job interview was terminated when she refused to shake hands with a man has won compensation.

Farah Alhajeh, 24, was applying for a job as an interpreter in her hometown of Uppsala when, for religious reasons, she placed her hand over her heart instead of shaking the hand of her male interviewer.

In the first judgement of its kind, the Swedish labour court ruled the company had discriminated against her.

The company had argued her actions contravened their requirement for staff to treat men and women equally.

Ms Alhajeh would have provided interpretation services via telephone or video, The Local reported, and would not have had to meet customers face-to-face.

The office of Sweden’s discrimination ombudsman argued she had tried to avoid any upset in the interview by greeting both men and women by placing her hand over her heart.

The company was ordered to pay 40,000 kronor (£3,400) in compensation.

According to the BBC, Sweden’s discrimination ombudsman, which represented Ms Alhajeh, said the judgement had taken into account “the employer’s interests, the individual’s right to bodily integrity, and the importance of the state to maintain protection for religious freedom.”

Sweden’s labour court found Ms Alhajeh’s refusal to shake hands due to religious reasons was protected by the European Convention on Human Rights.

While it said the company was right to demand both sexes be treated equally, it was detrimental to Muslims to demand a greeting in the form of a handshake.

Three labour judges ruled in favour of Ms Alhajeh’s claim, while two voted against.

Swedish Muslim woman wins handshaking discrimination case
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  • Striving to earn the halal

    Striving to earn the halal

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    By: Khalid Baig

    Source: Al Balagh

    According to Abdullah ibn Masud (may Allah be pleased with him) The Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “Seeking halal earning is a duty after the duty.” In other words, working to earn a halal living is itself a religious obligation second in importance to the primary religious obligations like prayers, fasting and hajj.

    This brief hadith contains three very important messages. First, it points to the Islamic way out of the apparent dichotomy between the material and the spiritual worlds. We often see them working in opposite directions whereby indulgence in the material world does lead one away from the spiritual world, and spiritual upliftment seems to accompany a tendency to distance oneself from the material pleasures. There is a tension, but is there necessarily a conflict?

    Is it possible to resolve the conflict in a way that one can take care of both? Or are they mutually exclusive? This has been a central question for all religions and many in the past suggested the second answer, proposing monasticism as the ideal for the humanity. Unfortunately, not much humanity is left when one moves too far in this direction. One can read today the horror stories of Christian and Hindu monks, among others, who tried to seek spiritual purification this way.

    As a reaction, others took the other course, making material pleasures the goal of this life. The materialistic western civilization today is the prime example of that. Its toll on human spirituality and morality is well known and is a constant reminder that something is wrong with that approach as well.

    In between the two extremes Islam points out the Straight Path. Man is both a material and a spiritual being. The solution does not lie in denying the material needs and desires but in denying their claim to primacy. They are part of being but not the reason or goal of being. As long as they are kept in place, they are an important part of our life. The problem is not money but the love of it. Wealth itself is not bad. In fact, Qur’an refers to it as “…your wealth which Allah has made for you a means of support.” [Al-Nisa, 4:5]. And another hadith praises the merits of “the halal wealth of a pious person.” The effort to earn a living is not only not against spirituality, it is a religious obligation!

    But this earning must be through halal (religiously lawful) means. This is the second message of this hadith. Our obligation is not just to make money but to make halal money. This is a broad statement that is the basis for Islamization of a society’s economic life. Not every business idea or possible business enterprise is good for the society. And the decision regarding right and wrong here cannot be left to the so-called market forces. Right and wrong in the economic life, as in all life, must be determined by a higher source. The Shariah guides us as to the halal and haram business enterprises and practices, and at both individual and

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  • The ultimate lesson of Qurbani

    The ultimate lesson of Qurbani

    MV Media
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    By: Jamiatul Ulama

    SourceJamiatul Ulama

    SUBMISSION

    Islam is submission. As Muslims we submit, surrender and hand over ourselves to the Divine command of Allah Most High and the perfect Sunnah of Nabi (ﷺ). In our Imaan, we submit and surrender our intelligence and understanding to believe in Allah Most High and in the unseen, as explained to us by Nabi (ﷺ).

    In our Salaah, we submit and surrender our physical limbs and place them down before Allah Most High. In fasting we submit and surrender our desire to eat and drink for the pleasure of Allah Most High. In Zakaat and qurbaani we submit and surrender our wealth for the pleasure of Allah Most High. In Haj we submit and surrender to the command of Allah Most High by sacrificing our health, wealth, time and homeland; and we present ourselves in the blessed lands in search of the grace and mercy of Allah Taala.

    A Muslim is an embodiment of submission.

    The days of Haj are with us. Those who undertake this momentous journey will be constantly reminded of Sayyidina Ebrahim (ﷺ), his wife Hazrath Hajra (ﷺ) and his son Hazrath Ismail (ﷺ). The Ka’ba Shareef that the Haji will perform tawaaf of was built by this illustrious father and son. The seven rounds between mount Safa and Marwa are the living reminder of the anxious running at that very pace by Hazrath Hajra (ﷺ) in search of water for her infant son. The precious water of zam zam makes one ponder over the thirst of Hazrath Ismail (ﷺ) and the extreme concern of his mother – until finally this miracle was granted to them. These are but just a few of the reminders of this illustrious family. Nevertheless, one tremendous lesson that shines extra-ordinarily in the lives of these great personalities is the level of their unquestioning submission to the command of Allah Most High. In these blessed days of Haj we should be learning especially this lesson from them and enacting it in our lives.

    BARREN LAND

    Consider the command of Allah Most High to Hazrath Ebrahim (ﷺ) to leave his wife and infant child alone in a barren land. No amount of human intelligence can fathom the wisdom behind this command. A solitary innocent woman and an infant child being left alone in a desert without any apparent means of survival is something that seems senseless. Had it been one of our liberal thinkers of today, he would have readily “re-interpreted” this command of Allah Most High. Many would have at least asked: “But why must I do this?” Hazrath Ebrahim (ﷺ) however responded very differently. He responded by doing exactly what he was told. Without any question he leaves his wife and child in the barren land and quietly turns to return. He lived up to his declaration which the Glorious Qur’an has preserved for eternity. Allah Most High says: “And remember the time when your Lord said to him (Ebrahim ﷺ) ‘Submit!’ He (Ebrahim ﷺ) replied “I have submitted to the Lor

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  • Erdogan slams US as lira recovers from dip

    Erdogan slams US as lira recovers from dip

    MV Media
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    By: Ece Goksedef

    Source: Middle East Eye

    ANKARA – As the Turkish lira pulled back from an overnight record low, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the US of seeking to stab his country in the back and promised the currency would return to “rational” levels.

    Recovering from a dangerous tailspin, the lira rose from 7.24 against the dollar in Asia Pacific trade on Monday morning after Turkey’s central bank pledged to provide liquidity and cut lira and foreign currency reserve requirements for Turkish banks.

    However, Erdogan, who has blamed his country’s economic woes on foreign interference, said he expected attacks on the economy to continue.

    The currency has lost more than 45 percent of its value this year over worries about Erdogan’s influence over the economy, his repeated calls for lower interest rates in the face of high inflation, and worsening ties with the United States.

    The president, who has called himself the “enemy of interest rates”, wants cheap credit from banks to fuel growth, but investors fear the economy is overheating and could be set for a hard landing.

    The crisis has been precipitated by an intense souring of relations between Washington and Ankara, with Turkey’s jailing of a US pastor and purchase of Russian air defence systems, as well as America’s refusal to extradite a Turkish cleric accused of plotting a coup, driving a wedge between the NATO allies.

    New measures

    In a statement released early Monday, the central bank promised to provide banks with “additional liquidity”, and said it “will closely monitor the market depth and price formations, and take all necessary measures to maintain financial stability, if deemed necessary”.

    One of the measures to be implemented by Turkey’s central bank is cutting the lira’s reserve requirement ration, a cash buffer held by banks, by 250 points for all maturity brackets and lowered reserve requirement ratios for non-core FX liabilities by 400 basis points for maturities up to three years.

    These moves will free up 10 billion lira, $6 billion and $3 billion equivalent of gold liquidity in the financial system, the bank said.

    Ercan Uysal, an independent economist, told Middle East Eye that the central bank’s measures are positive steps – in the short term at least.

    “The steps and announcements by the central bank and the treasury and finance ministry aim to relax the liquidity and the banking system in the short term, and I believe these measures will help to slow down the lira’s plunging,” he said.

    “This will positively affect the Turkish lira, but these are only short-term solutions. In the longer term, they have to take other decisions to solve the problems on economy and foreign policy.”

    Anger and treason

    On Friday, US President Donald Tr

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1415
  • Russia regrets US suspension of cooperation within Open Skies Treaty
    Russia regrets US suspension of cooperation within Open Skies Treaty

    Russia regrets US suspension of cooperation within Open Skies Treaty

    Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov made the comment on Tuesday, a day after US President Donald Trump signed the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act into law, according to which Washington will not allocate any funds to implement the Open Skies Treaty until penalties are imposed on Russia for previous purported violations. “Instead of addressing this issue within the framework of the Open Skies Consultative Commission, we learn from the new bill that the funding for implementation [of the treaty] would be suspended. Well, this is a choice of the United States. This is the path toward further intoxication of international relations by unilateral methods. We can only regret it,” Ryabkov said. The senior diplomat further said that Moscow was also concerned over the record-high US allocations for military purposes under the new military budget and that the Kremlin would carefully examine the document. In September last year, Russia criticized the US for placing restrictions on Russian military flights over American territory, vowing to retaliate against any further restrictions by Washington. Earlier that month, The Wall Street Journal claimed that the US restrictions on Russia had been in response to Moscow preventing US observation flights over its heavily militarized Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad. The Treaty on Open Skies was struck on January 1, 2002 between the US, Russia, and more than thirty other countries. It was designed to enhance mutual understanding and confidence by giving all participants a direct role in gathering information about the military forces and activities of concern to them.
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  • Saudi dissident preacher dies ‘after torture’ in regime prison
    Saudi dissident preacher dies ‘after torture’ in regime prison

    Saudi dissident preacher dies ‘after torture’ in regime prison

    The rights group Prisoners of Consciousness, which is an independent non-governmental organization advocating human rights in Saudi Arabia, announced in a post on its official Twitter page on Tuesday that Sheikh Suleiman al-Doweesh had lost his life due to severe torture he was subjected to during criminal investigations. The news came only two days after Saudi authorities arrested Shaikh Nasser al-Omar, a former professor at the Faculty of Fundamentals of Religion at Riyadh-based Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University, and suspended his Twitter account. Saudi Arabia has lately stepped up politically-motivated arrests, prosecution and conviction of peaceful dissident writers and human rights campaigners. Saudi officials have also intensified security measures in the Shia-populated and oil-rich Eastern Province. Eastern Province has been the scene of peaceful demonstrations since February 2011. Protesters have been demanding reforms, freedom of expression, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination against the oil-rich region. The protests have been met with a heavy-handed crackdown by the regime with security forces increasing security measures across the province. Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism. In January 2016, Saudi authorities executed Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, who was an outspoken critic of the policies of the Riyadh regime. Nimr had been arrested in Qatif in 2012.
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  • China denounces new US military act
    China denounces new US military act

    China denounces new US military act

    US President Donald Trump on Monday signed the 2019 US military spending bill into law, authorizing the Defense Department to invest around $716 billion into military strategies that will primarily target Russia and China. The National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, strengthens the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews proposals to decide whether they threaten national security. Referring to the inclusion of the CFIUS in the act, China’s Commerce Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that it would “comprehensively assess the contents,” paying close attention to the impact on Chinese companies. “The US side should objectively and fairly treat Chinese investors, and avoid CFIUS becoming an obstacle to investment cooperation between Chinese and US firms,” the ministry added. The legislation comes amid an escalating trade tariff spat between the two countries. The new act also states that “long-term strategic competition with China” is a top priority for the US. It also said that the US should improve the defense capabilities of Taiwan. In a separate statement, China’s Foreign Ministry said Beijing was dissatisfied with the “negative content [of the law] related to China.” It called on Washington to “abandon its Cold-War mindset and zero-sum philosophy and view China and Sino-US relations in an objective perspective,” and not to implement the act’s negative clauses about China, so as not to damage bilateral ties and mutual cooperation. China’s Defense Ministry also condemned the law, saying it “exaggerated Sino-US antagonism,” damaged trust between the two militaries, and involved the most important and sensitive issue in bilateral ties, namely Taiwan. “We will never let any person, at any time or in any form, split Taiwan off from China,” it added. China and Taiwan split amid a civil war in 1949, but Beijing’s leadership pursues their reunification. In 1979, the US adopted the “One China” policy of recognizing Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan. But the US has long courted Taiwan in an attempt to counter China.
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  • Group of Iran Christians slam US ‘interventionism,’ wars
    Group of Iran Christians slam US ‘interventionism,’ wars

    Group of Iran Christians slam US ‘interventionism,’ wars

    In a statement released on Tuesday, the churches rejected US accusations of rights violations against religious minorities in Iran, saying all divine religions in the country have their own representatives at the Iranian parliament (Majlis), who enjoy equal rights with fellow lawmakers. Within the Islamic establishment, the statement said, the churches feel free to hold religious ceremonies and cultural-sports festivals while preserving the Assyrian language. It added that a special budget has been allocated to Iranian religious communities. These are “just examples of the commitment of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s holy establishment to the issue of divine religions and their followers and to protecting their moral and social values,” the statement read. The “interventionist comments” by American statesmen “through official platforms and cyberspace, especially Twitter, about violations of religious minorities' rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran are no more than shedding crocodile tears,” the statement added. The Assyro-Chaldean churches further called on US officials to focus on their own domestic issues and engage in “effective and constructive relations with all governments” instead of interfering in their internal affairs. They also condemned Washington’s support for the warmongering regimes of Israel and Saudi Arabia, calling on the US to stop supporting the bloody wars in Syria and Yemen. They further noted that Iranian religious minorities need no “guardian” in their homeland and are able to defend their rights through their representatives at the parliament and related government institutions. The official religion of Iran is Shia Islam under the Constitution. The Islamic Republic recognizes Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian religious minorities, among others. The Constitution stipulates that “the investigation of individual beliefs is forbidden,” and that “no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.” The US, however, has long been seeking to represent itself as a defender of the rights of Iranian religious minorities, accusing the Islamic establishment of intolerance towards them. Such accusations have seen a sharp rise since the inauguration of President Donald Trump. In late July, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took to Twitter to attack Iran’s Islamic establishment again, claiming religious minorities, including Jews, Christians and Sunni Muslims, “live in fear” at home. The department under Pompeo’s watch also released its annual “religious freedom report" in late May, in which it targeted Iran besides Washington’s other adversaries, including Russia and China. The Iran section of the report claimed that “non-Shia Muslims and those affiliated with a religion other than Islam” residing in the Islamic Republic faced “societal discrimination and harassment.” Tehran rejected that report as baseless.
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  • Two million Hajjis expected for this year’s Hajj

    Two million Hajjis expected for this year’s Hajj

    MV Events
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    By: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

    SourceRadio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

    An estimated 2 million Muslims will gather in Saudi Arabia next week for the hajj, which will feature the return of pilgrims from Iran, whose government boycotted the event in recent years after a 2015 stampede that killed hundreds of Iranians.

    One of the five pillars of the world’s fastest-growing religion, the hajj this year runs from August 19 to 24 and is expected to draw 2 million of the world’s estimated 2 billion Muslims.

    Every Muslim is required to complete the hajj at least once in their lifetime if they have the means to do so.

    By August 16, more than 1.6 million people had already arrived in Saudi Arabia. Thousands could be seen arriving in Mecca, with groups from different countries wearing distinct colors to set them apart.

    Some pilgrims pushed their elderly relatives on wheelchairs, while others stopped to call family members back home on video chat or buy ice cream as temperatures soared above 40 degrees Celsius.

    For many pilgrims, it is their first time away from home.

    This year, the Saudis launched a “smart hajj” initiative, with apps to help pilgrims with everything from travel plans to medical care.

    Two million Hajjis expected for this year’s Hajj
    MuslimVillage.com
    MuslimVillage.com - Islam | News | Muslim Lifestyle | Muslim Forums | Islamic Events...

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  • US says ready to sanction China for buying Iran's oil
    US says ready to sanction China for buying Iran's oil

    US says ready to sanction China for buying Iran's oil

    The announcement was made on Thursday by Brian Hook, the head of US State Department's newly-established Iran Action Group, after he was asked by reporters about the group’s plan for dealing with China, The Wall Street Journal reported. “The United States certainly hopes for full compliance by all nations in terms of not risking the threat of US secondary sanctions if they continue with those transactions,” he said. “We are prepared to impose secondary sanctions on other governments that continue this sort of trade with Iran,” Hook noted. He said the US would issue waivers from sanctions only to countries that had made efforts to reduce their oil purchases from Iran. Back in May, the US withdrew from a 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement with Iran and said it would re-introduce the sanctions that had been lifted under the accord. Washington reinstated a series of unilateral sanctions against Iran in early August and would re-impose a second batch in November which would primarily be meant to undermine Tehran’s oil exports. Beijing, Iran’s top oil customer has thus far been defiant to Washington's call to stop buying Iranian oil, saying commercial cooperation between the two sides did not harm other countries' interests and therefore had to be protected from sanctions. In a statement earlier this month, China’s Foreign Ministry said Beijing's business ties with Tehran were "reasonable" and did not breach UN resolutions. It also expressed opposition to Washington’s sanctions against Iran as well as what it described as “long-armed jurisdiction." In July, the Wall Street Journal cited senior American officials as saying they believed that China was likely to buy even more Iranian crude after the sanctions.
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  • Russia says Syria base attacked by ‘sophisticated’ drones
    Russia says Syria base attacked by ‘sophisticated’ drones

    Russia says Syria base attacked by ‘sophisticated’ drones

    Russia’s  Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said Thursday that drones downed by Hmeimim air defense assets appeared primitive but had a range of 100 kilometers and used advanced technologies. The drones, equipped with explosive devices, navigation gadgets and control systems, could not have been assembled by militants "without any outside help", he said. Experts who have analyzed the downed UAVs have reached the conclusion that the assembling work is based on “a clear instruction developed by specialists”, Konashenkov said. Terrorists, he said, have also launched the attacks based on a clear line of expert directions.  According to Konashenkov, Russian air defense assets have over the past month successfully downed 45 drones during attacks on the Hmeimim airbase located in Syria’s Latakia. The attacks were launched by Idlib-based militants and the number of such attacks has recently increased. The Hmeimim airbase is the hub of Russian operations in the Arab country and the largest base in Syria run by foreign troops. Idlib, a governorate on the Turkish border, is one of the last strongholds still held by foreign-backed militants in Syria.
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  • Imran Khan elected Pakistan's new prime minister
    Imran Khan elected Pakistan's new prime minister

    Imran Khan elected Pakistan's new prime minister

    Asad Qaiser, the speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan (the Lower House of Parliament), said Khan "got 176 votes," while his rival candidate, Shehbaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), garnered only 96 votes. Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party won the country’s disputed election held in July but fell short of an outright majority. The PTI is expected to form a coalition government with smaller parties. The opposition claims that the July 25 election was rigged by the powerful military, which ruled the country for about half the time since the country’s formation in 1947. The military has denied the allegation. Opposition lawmakers surrounded Khan and chanted, "thief, thief Imran Khan." On July 29, Pakistan’s main opposition party called for a judicial investigation into vote rigging. Murtaza Abbasi, a lawmaker from the PML-N, which is led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said in the parliament that Khan was "brought here by aliens," a euphemism for the military. Other opposition lawmakers in the parliament on Friday chanted, "puppet prime minister." Khan, 65, will be sworn in on Saturday, but he has yet to announce his cabinet. The cricket legend has called for "mutually beneficial" relationships with the United States. He has also urged the resolution of the long-simmering dispute between Pakistan and India over Kashmir.
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  • No matter who sits in White House, US is bent on world domination
    No matter who sits in White House, US is bent on world domination

    No matter who sits in White House, US is bent on world domination

    Etler, a former professor of Anthropology at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California, made the remarks while commenting on a statement by the US military in which it has claims that China has expanded its bomber operations, and is “likely training for strikes” against the United States. A Pentagon report released on Thursday said Chinese bombers are developing capabilities to hit targets as far from China as possible. “Over the last three years, the PLA (People's Liberation Army) has rapidly expanded its overwater bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against US and allied targets,” the report said. The Pentagon report added that China’s space program was progressing as well. “The PLA continues to strengthen its military space capabilities despite its public stance against the militarization of space,” it said. The report, which comes amid heightened US-China tensions over trade, claimed that China is seeking to rapidly increase its global influence, with defense spending that the Pentagon estimates exceeded 190 billion dollars in 2017. “The US, no matter who sits in the White House or which party rules Congress, is bent on world domination. Until recently they exercised their global hegemony without opposition, using the ‘war on terrorism’ as an excuse and cover to invade and destroy any regime that opposed it,” Etler said. “The litany of nations that the US has destabilized or destroyed by military attacks and/or economic sanctions spans the globe. The US Navy plies the ‘seven seas with fleets of aircraft carriers,’ its Air Force has bases in Europe, the Middle East and the Asian Pacific, its military has hundreds of bases and installations deployed throughout the world, and its military budget is larger than that of all other countries combined. The US military juggernaut is used to intimidate and oppress the nations and people of the world,” he added. “Yet, the Pentagon is constantly seeking new excuses to increase its military expenditures. New enemies have to be fabricated on a daily basis. Nations that seek to defend themselves from the depredations of US Imperialism are singled out as ‘threats,’ no matter that the US threatens them not vice versa,” he stated.   “China is a case in point. The US has fought two wars, in Korea and Vietnam, on China’s borders with the expressed intent of containing and isolating her. US troops are stationed in neighboring countries and US fleets sail by her shores. US aircraft fly by China’s coastline on a regular basis and its Navy sends ships through the South China Sea to challenge China’s sovereignty,” the analyst said. “There can be no doubt that the US ‘trains its pilots for strikes’ against China and that ‘its bombers have the ‘capability to hit targets’ as far from the US as possible. The US has for decades ‘expanded its overwater bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical maritime regions’ and has certainly ‘trained for strikes’ against China and allied targets,” he said. “Well, turnaround is fair play. The audacity of the US calling out other countries for developing the capacity to protect themselves and deter US aggression is nothing but laughable. No one can possibly take their propagandistic admonitions seriously,” the scholar concluded.
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  • Yemeni civilians trapped as Saudi ramps up attacks on Hudaydah
    Yemeni civilians trapped as Saudi ramps up attacks on Hudaydah

    Yemeni civilians trapped as Saudi ramps up attacks on Hudaydah

    Backed by air power from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, militia groups loyal to Yemen’s ousted former president, Abd Rbbuh Mansour Hadi, have been pushing to seize the Duraihami District, which lies adjacent to southern Hudaydah. The Saudi-led front mounted a new offensive in Duraihami on Tuesday, two days after laying a siege to the heavily-populated area. Local reports said the area is being constantly targeted by Saudi-led airstrikes, rocket attacks, artillery and an ongoing ground offensive. The Houthi fighters say the Saudi-led coalition has been indiscriminately targeting civilians. "The aggressor’s mercenaries are attacking the city randomly and they have destroyed houses and killed civilians inside them," a Houthi fighter in Hudaydah told Middle East Eye news portal. "The airstrikes killed dozens of civilians in Duraihami and they are still targeting civilians, while Ansarallah [the Houthis] are fighting face-to-face on the ground," he added. While authorities are trying to cope with a severe shortage of food and medicines due to the Saudi siege, the attacks have also crippled internet coverage across the region, making it almost impossible for residents to contact the outside world. “There are some people that have bled to death [in the street] and no one dared to help them because of the clashes. Some corpses have decayed in the streets,” one resident said when reached by MEE. Local health officials told MEE that airstrikes and rocket attacks on Duraihami had killed “dozens” of civilians but the extent of casualties was unknown. Saudi’s long record of attacks on Yemeni civilians Human Rights Watch says the Saudi-led coalition has conducted scores of “indiscriminate and disproportionate air strikes” hitting civilian objects that have killed thousands of civilians “in violation of the laws of war”, with munitions that the US, United Kingdom, and others still supply. In one of their most abhorrent attacks, Saudi warplanes targeted a school bus in Yemen’s northwestern province of Sa’ada last week, leaving 40 children and 11 adults dead. According to data from an independent monitoring group, the Yemen Data Project, this was just one of 55 instances of attacks on Yemeni civilian vehicles this year. The group also suggests that Saudis are targeting civilians on purpose as an extensive analysis of over 18,000 airstrikes from March 2015 to April 2016 shows that almost a third (31%) of the targets were non-military – civilians or civilian infrastructure. This is while only 36 percent of the attacks targeted military sites. The rest of the attacks were classified as having an unknown target. Trump under pressure to explain US role in war Following the deadly attack on Yemeni children, Democratic members of the US Congress have written three separate letters to Trump, asking him to justify Washington’s continued support for Riyadh in the face of its many atrocities. The US, the UK and France have been the main providers of weapons and intelligence support to the Saudi Arabia and the UAE during the war. It was reported in the days following the attack that an American bomb was used to hit the bus. The US has refused to condemn the attack. The lawmakers have also urged US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Intelligence Director Daniel Coats to brief them on the war. After the attack, the Riyadh regime first defended the strike as "legitimate" but later said it would investigate "collateral damage." Spain said this week that it was reconsidering its arms sales to Saudi Arabia after the attack. The country sold about $500 million worth of weapons and munitions to Saudi last year, according to the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper. UN spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci announced on Friday th
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  • North Korean leader lashes out at ‘hostile forces’ over ‘brigandish’ sanctions
    North Korean leader lashes out at ‘hostile forces’ over ‘brigandish’ sanctions

    North Korean leader lashes out at ‘hostile forces’ over ‘brigandish’ sanctions

    Kim made the rare remarks during a visit to a construction site in a tourist coastal area, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported. The North Korean leader expressed his discontent with the international sanctions, and accused what he called "hostile forces" of attempting to "stifle" his nation by imposing "brigandish" sanctions and a blockade on Pyongyang. He also described his country’s resistance against such sanctions as “a do-or-die struggle to defend the prestige of the party and a worthwhile struggle for creating the happiness of the people.” Kim’s comments came as a surprise to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency which wrote on Friday that it was rare for the North Korean leader to personally mention sanctions and blockade by using rough expressions like "brigandish." The remarks came a few days after the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warned that North Korea would likely go through a "full-blown food security crisis" amid a heatwave that destroyed a large portion of the country's agricultural fields. In a statement issued last Friday, the IFRC stressed that the worrying situation has been exacerbated by the international sanctions imposed on North Korea over its missile and nuclear programs. North Korea is under tough sanctions imposed by the UN, the US, and the European Union. The UN imposed its toughest-ever bans on Pyongyang after it test-fired new ballistic missiles in July 2017 and then conducted its most powerful nuclear test in September 2017. The EU and the US, which has engaged in talks with North Korea over its nuclear program, have also imposed wide-ranging unilateral bans against the country. After a historic summit in Singapore in June, US President Donald Trump said Kim had promised to immediately end North Korea’s weapons programs. Pyongyang, however, later urged Washington to take reciprocal measures including officially removing sanctions.
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  • China: Turkey can overcome 'temporary' economic crisis
    China: Turkey can overcome 'temporary' economic crisis

    China: Turkey can overcome 'temporary' economic crisis

    The Turkish lira has lost about 30 percent of its value against the US dollar since the beginning of August. The currency crash occurred in the wake of tensions with the United States. The detention of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor, in Turkey has cast doubts over the future of Ankara's partnership with Washington. China's Foreign Ministry said in a brief statement on Friday that it had noted the "new direction" of the Turkish economy and its foreign relations. "Turkey is an important emerging market country, and it remaining stable and developing benefits regional peace and stability," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said. "China believes that Turkey has the ability to overcome the temporary economic difficulties, and hopes the relevant sides can ease their differences via dialogue." Washington has threatened to impose more sanctions on Turkey, making it clear that no immediate end was in sight to the showdown between the two NATO allies. The Chinese Foreign Ministry also referred to media reports that state-run Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC) had inked a $3.8-billion financing deal with Turkey. In July, China’s Xinhua state news agency reported that the Turkish unit of ICBC had signed the deal at a forum in Ankara, without giving further details. Beijing says China has always backed business and finance cooperation between the nations and the signing of accords in accordance with market rules. On Thursday, Turkey's Finance Minister Berat Albayrak reassured thousands of foreign investors that Ankara would manage to contain the currency crisis, vowing that his country would only emerge "stronger" from the current market volatility.
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  • How Will Bahrain’s Majority Shiites Be Reduced to Small Minority by 2050?
    How Will Bahrain’s Majority Shiites Be Reduced to Small Minority by 2050?

    How Will Bahrain’s Majority Shiites Be Reduced to Small Minority by 2050?

     Al Khalifa’s rule began in 1783 and has continued to date. The country, with 767 square kilometers of size, fell to the hands of Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa since 1999. The ruler, feeling that Shiite citizens developing increasing knowledge of the democratic values, implemented a policy of crackdown and elimination politically, socially, and economically. The repression against the Shiites, much of them Twelver Shiites, continued until 2011, the year when the people, taking cues from a wave of anti-dictatorship uprisings in the Arab region, rose their voice against the rule of Al Khalifa. But the ruling family countered the revolution with an iron fist as it was aided by Saudi Arabia and other despotic regimes. The revolt continued in the next years, reflecting immense antipathy to the Al Khalifa rule. The ruling family responded by shoring up its clampdown campaign unprecedentedly, drawing protests on the global stage. So far, many international rights organizations have officially disparaged repression of the Shiite citizens in Bahrain. The Shiites in the new conditions are on the track of being gradually eliminated. Three regime policies set off the alarm bells to the Shiites: Shiites marginalized from various social stages  Discrimination in offering equal opportunities in a variety of social, economic, and political areas is the regime’s top policy against the Shiite citizens. The government presses with its anti-Shiite policies so brazenly that even its Western allies, on top of them the US, admit that the Shiite citizens are subjected to big discrimination. Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), a human rights watchdog focusing on Bahrain, this month published a report on the predominantly Shiite Bahraini natives, dubbed Baharna, bringing in spotlight their grave conditions. The report suggests that the Baharna account for 70 percent of the country’s population. They are, the report says, are exposed to substantial discrimination in social welfare, employment, education, and culture. According to the report, the Baharna, also called Bahranis, are deprived of the right for education in their faith, as they also face a big challenge in job opportunities access. The ADHRB’s report adds that the native Bahrainis constitute the lower economic class of the society, with the Manama regime systematically depriving them of education, welfare, and medical services. Demographic changes Al Khalifa also resorts to manipulation of the population demographically to transform the Sunni population into the majority as part of a strategy to impair the Shiite base. According to field investigations, the ruling regime has launched organized demographic change programs over the past three decades to decrease the Shiite population. The regime brings Sunnis from Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India with the guarantee of job opportunities, housing, and other social benefits to push the Shiites into a minority. Field realities show that the migrants, also called “the citizenized” locally, have reduced the proportion of the Shiite population. In 2001, for example, the Shiite population was 85 percent but in 2008 it fell to 70 percent. Since the 2011 uprising, some 15,000 Baathist Iraqis were moved to Bahrain from Jordan. In 1999, Bahrain’s population was 700,000. The number increased to 1.250 million in 2012, with 350,000 of them being the citizenized people. The experts now warn that if the current demographic change policy goes on, over 80 percent of the Bahraini population will be Sunnis in 2050. Anti-Shiite crackdown and citizenship revocation  Over the past few years, the Al Khalifa regime increasingly sent to prison the rights and civil activists and Shiite clerics under political motivations. According to a report jointly issued by ADHRB and Iraq Development Organization (IDO), the Bahraini regime continues its cl
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